Tuesday Tip: * is Wild — Wildcards in DEVONthink

In DEVONthink, you have the ability to use use wildcards in a search term to do partial string matches.

  • : The star (asterisk) is most commonly known and it matches zero or more characters. (Note: This is not per REGEX rules which matches the previous character. This matches in place.)
  • : The question mark matches one character.
  • : The tilde (yep, that’s what it’s called), is a special character that matches the string as if you entered *myString*.

(Note: If “Preview while Typing” is on, this treats the last search term as having an asterisk at the end of it. For right now, turn this option off under the magnifying glass.)

Say you had a text file with this in it:


Searching for:

  • ach would match nothing. (This would only match if there was a word “ach” in the document.)
  • ach? would match nothing. (Since there’s more than one character following “ach” in “Aches”.)
  • ach* matches Aches.
  • *ach matches Bach (as would ?ach).
  • ?ach* matches Pachyderm or Bach but not Aches. (Remember, * matches zero or more characters and ? matches exactly one character.)
  • ~ach matches Aches, Pachyderm, and Bach(It’s like entering *ach*.)
  • *a?h (or ?a?h) matches Bash.
  • ~a?h matches every line.

I hope this gives you some better ideas about how you can use wildcards to help your searches be more productive.

5 Responses to “Tuesday Tip: * is Wild — Wildcards in DEVONthink”

  1. Emmanuel Borlet says:


    i’m trying to search terms on the same line.
    how can i do ?

    ex :
    $ chmod -a “admin allow write” myfile.txt
    $ chmod =a# 1 “admin allow write,chown”

    i want to match “chmod” and “myfile.txt” on the same line so the 1st


    Emmanuel Borlet

  2. […] 9. Tuesday Tip: * is Wild — Wildcards in DEVONthink|Devonian Times […]

  3. eboehnisch says:

    @ Emmanuel: You cannot tell DEVONthink to find a document only when both terms appear on the same line. You can, however, use Boolean operators such as NEAR to tell DEVONthink only to report a document when both words appear not more than ten words apart from each other. Use NEAR/n for even more granular control (find words that are n words apart).

  4. Hartmut Schwensen says:


    Is there any chance to search for Tag1 AND Tag2? Marking tags seems to be Tag1 OR Tag 2.

    I tagged my documents with “taxes” and “2017” but struggle to find documents that match both tags.


  5. Jim Neumann says:

    Tags are not indexed so they aren’t searchable in this way.
    You’d need to use a Smart Group or add Tags criteria in the Advanced section of Tools > Search.
    Select ALL (which functions as AND) instead of ANY (which functions as OR).